“Devastating setbacks cause a lot of pain. It doesn’t get any easier,” Andy Murray stated after a quiet performance against Taro Nakamura of Japan. Daniel was eliminated in the second round of the Australian Open.
At the John Cain Arena, Britain’s Murray was defeated 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 by qualifier Daniel, who has rated 120 places behind him in the world.
It was a long cry from the 34-year-old’s match against Nikoloz Basilashvili, the 21st seed, on Tuesday.
Murray, who is now ranked 113th in the world, had never lost a Grand Slam match to a player rated as low as Daniel.
Daniel, who is 28 years old, made it to the third round of a major for the first time in his career. After Daniel won a victory with a clean backhand volley on his first match point, Murray cast a despondent glance towards his box.
Murray’s exit was quickly followed by Emma Raducanu’s defeat, leaving Dan Evans as the final British player in the singles.
The victory over Georgia’s Basilashvili was especially meaningful because it came on the same Melbourne court where he had hoped to play his final match in 2019.
At first glance, Daniel appeared to be someone Murray should be able to defeat based on his rating and pedigree. However, he was up against a tough opponent who was full of confidence after advancing through qualifying and the first round without dropping a set.
Murray appeared tired during the match but declared afterwards that he was good physically and that he had recovered well from his four-hour opener.
He broke back for 3-3 after losing serve in a 13-minute third game, but then hit a double fault as Daniel immediately reclaimed the lead, allowing him to serve out the opening set.
Murray committed 16 unforced errors in the first set, compared to seven by his opponent. His brief return to Melbourne ended in a whimper as he lost the remaining three games despite the efforts of the crowd to rousing him.